Sastra Praman, Apta Pramana and Atma Pramana: A Dialogue between Swami Nithyananda and Rajiv Malhotra
Swami Nithyananda: Basically, Veda and Āgamas are considered as Śāstra Pramāṇa. It is non-controversial. Anyone who is the follower of Sanatana Hindu Dharma, accepting the superiority, authority of the Vedagamas is the basic thing. And masters who accept the authority of the Vedagamas only can be called as Aptas. Anyone and everyone cannot be called as Aptas. And all their words cannot be taken as Apta Pramāṇa. Masters who accept the authority of the Vedas, Śāstra Pramāṇa, like Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi, those great beings, Patañjali, Krishna, the beings, the great masters, exemplars who accept the authority of the Vedagamas are Aptas. Their input is very much needed because time to time they make the whole thing again alive.
They bring the whole Sanatana Hindu Dharma as real in every new context. So, Śāstra Pramāṇa and Apta Pramāṇa are the authorities for Sanatana Hindu Dharma. Anybody who gets any Atma Pramāṇa, they have to acid wash their Atma Pramāṇawith Śāstra Pramāṇa and Apta Pramāṇa. Whatever stands that acid wash only should be shared with the world. See, many times, many people, they say, “Oh, it’s my experience and I don’t need to be bothered about Śāstra Pramāṇa and Apta Pramāṇa.” No. Many times, your own experience may be even good for you. I’m not saying you don’t have experience. It may be only good for you. If you want to teach it to the world, it should stand the scrutiny of Śāstra Pramāṇa and Apta Pramāṇa.
Because sometimes you might have got the Satori without knowingly practicing vegetarian, but unknowingly you lived a vegetarian lifestyle, you got Satori. If you say, I will not refer the Śāstras, you will not know vegetarianism is a prerequisite for Satori, you will not teach that to your next generation. Only if you refer the Śāstras, if you refer the Apta Pramāṇa and Śāstra Pramāṇa, you will know, yes, vegetarianism is a basic requirement and I was practicing it without my knowledge.
Rajiv Malhotra: So, if I haven’t studied Śāstra, but I somehow experienced something, I fully don’t understand why I experienced it. It’s just coincidental also. It could be past life. It could be whatever. And so, it may not be fully responsible to go and teach other people.
Swami Nithyananda: Yes. The adhikaratva of teaching comes only if you scrutinize all your experiences with Śāstra Pramāṇa and Apta Pramāṇa and your Atma Pramāṇa, your personal experience, stands the scrutiny of the Śāstra Pramāṇa and Apta Pramāṇa.
Rajiv Malhotra: So, basically, what I understand is teachers –and there are some of them, important ones–who go around saying, I have this experience, I don’t believe in Śāstra, it is my experience I’m teaching you, what they’re really saying is, my Atma Pramāṇa is enough to teach you without reference to the Śāstra Pramāṇ or the Apta Pramāṇa, which is dangerous part, which is very irresponsible.
Swami Nithyananda: Not only irresponsible. Many time dangerous. See, there are some asanas, it should not be done by people who are drinking alcohol. There are some pranayamas, it should not be done people who are consuming non-veg. This guru himself, when he was practicing, he might have been a natural vegetarian and natural non-alcoholic…
Rajiv Malhotra: But did not know the cause-effect link.
Swami Nithyananda: He did not know. That was also a reason why he got an experience.
Rajiv Malhotra: Right.
Swami Nithyananda: So, when we do not read the clear signs, it is like a compounder becoming doctor. In Indian village, it happens all the time. Because he lived with the doctor, he slowly starts thinking. “Oh, for headache, black tablet. For stomach pain, yellow tablet. For knee pain, green tablet.”As long as the pharmaceutical companies don’t change the colour, things are okay.
But what will happen if the company changes the colour. So many time, when we deny the authority of the Śāstra Pramāṇa and Apta Pramāṇa, we are behaving irresponsibly and it is dangerous, especially for the seekers and followers.
Rajiv Malhotra: Very good.
Swami Nithyananda: I always insist the seekers and followers, wherever you go, even if you go to an astrologer or a vāstu consultant or yoga, anything spiritual, always find whether they have the adhikaratva to teach. Adhikaratva, authority to teach, comes only if they acid wash their experience, their knowledge, their understanding with the original Śāstra Pramāṇa and Apta Pramāṇa.
Rajiv Malhotra: This is why I’m very glad. Every time, we’ve had a discussion, you’ve said I’ll show you the exact original source and you’re going to publish it in a book and give everybody a copy.
Swami Nithyananda: Already, major things we have published. The remaining things are also ready, which is coming out, which is getting released and getting out. Whether the food you eat in our ashram or the dress you wear or jewelleries you are given or the way you are made to sit in mandala or the bhasma or the kumkum which we are giving or the rituals we are conducting or every process I’m doing or every concept I’m explaining, I can give you Śāstra Pramāṇa and Apta Pramāṇa and my Atma Pramāṇa. I can make that as a Sakshi Pramāṇa for you.
Rajiv Malhotra: That’s very important.
Swami Nithyananda: I’m very clear. And I also wanted to put this on record. There are many of my Atma Pramāṇas, I have not yet found Śāstra Pramāṇa and Apta Pramāṇa, so I am not revealing them, I’m just keeping them. Wait, let me only teach first whatever I can acid wash.
Rajiv Malhotra: Right.
Swami Nithyananda: Whatever stands the scrutiny of Śāstra Pramāṇa and Apta Pramāṇa, let that be presented to the world first and made into Sakshi Pramāṇa.
Rajiv Malhotra: So, basically, your experience only should be taught if it is filtered through the texts.
Swami Nithyananda: Yes, acid washed.
Rajiv Malhotra: Yes, acid washed.
Swami Nithyananda: I should use the word. That’s the right word I’ll use.
Rajiv Malhotra: Very tough.
Swami Nithyananda: Acid washed by the Śāstra Pramāṇa and Apta Pramāṇa.
Rajiv Malhotra: Yes.
Swami Nithyananda: It should stand the scrutiny of both. Only then, it should be shared with the world. That is the only non-dangerous safe path, I can tell you with all my integrity.
Author’s email address: Infinity.Foundation.India@gmail.com